v.5 is out Now!
Reading time:

UgCS used in Australia to help a heartbroken family find the remains of a missing person

UgCS: Flight Planning & Control
June 15, 2023

The search for missing persons is a challenging and often heartbreaking task. In cases where the search extends to locating the remains of a missing individual, every effort must be made to ensure thorough coverage of the area. Uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become an invaluable tool in search and recovery operations. In addition to drones themselves, flight planning software such as UgCS by SPH Engineering plays a crucial role.

Expanding Search Coverage and Accessibility

Usually, locating the remains of a missing person involves searching expansive areas, including dense forests, rugged terrains, or bodies of water. Traditional search methods can be time-consuming and limited in their ability to cover vast areas effectively. However, by leveraging UgCS drone flight planning software, search and recovery teams can plan and execute UAV missions with precise flight paths, considering specific search patterns, altitude, and terrain. UgCS software makes it possible to deploy drones to areas otherwise out of reach of ground teams. It expands the search coverage and increases the chances of locating the remains of missing people.

Drone Operator Helps Heartbroken Family Solve Mystery

Source: 10 News First Perth

In March 2023, a drone operator named Daniel Wood volunteered his time and resources to help resolve a tragic mystery that had been troubling a family in Western Australia for the past two years. The rugged DJI M300 drone along with UgCS flight planning software helped bring about the discovery of the missing person's remains, providing closure to the distressed family.

Source: 10 News First Perth

A 26-year-old Cory O'Connell, mysteriously disappeared two years ago. His family, particularly his sister Haley, was determined to find answers and had organized four independent searches in the area where Cory was last seen. Despite their relentless efforts, the family's quest for closure remained unfulfilled.

Daniel Wood, an experienced drone operator from Working Drones Australia, flew from Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) to Western Australia to volunteer and conduct an aerial survey of a 20 square kilometer area where Cory was last seen. His strategy involved capturing thousands of high-resolution images of the thick scrub, hoping that even the smallest clue might reveal the location. For four days, Daniel spent eight hours each day capturing the images of the bushland. His mission was, however, unexpectedly interrupted when a hawk attacked his drone. The incident forced him to abandon the operation for a full day, resulting in a potential gap in the data.  By using UgCS flight planning software, Daniel was able to return to the area the following day and complete the mission and ensure complete coverage.

Source: 10 News First Perth

After a rigorous process that involved uploading and examining a staggering total of 41,000 images, a breakthrough came within 48 hours. An unusual sighting among the images led authorities to a location in the scrub. There, the remains of Cory were discovered. Remarkably, the drone images showed that previous searchers had come within eight meters of this location.

The unwavering commitment of Daniel Wood, coupled with the effective use of the DJI M300 drone and UgCS software, showcased the potential of drone technology and its significant role in supporting humanitarian efforts, giving hope to other families facing similar circumstances.

High-Resolution Imagery and Data Collection

UgCS drone flight planning software allows flying fully offline by caching maps and elevation for offline use. Moreover, it supports the use of map overlays and custom terrain elevation models to be used with terrain following, a useful feature when planning large routes over complex elevation. These tools enable the capture of detailed aerial imagery and data that can be crucial in identifying potential areas of interest during the search for remains. The software allows search teams to plan flight paths that ensure optimal image coverage, capturing images from multiple angles and perspectives. The collected data can then be analyzed thoroughly, providing valuable information on potential locations or anomalies that may indicate the presence of human remains. In addition, the collected data can be stored and archived for future reference, facilitating long-term analysis and comparison of search missions. This ongoing accumulation of data and insights contributes to the continuous improvement of search and recovery techniques, ultimately aiding in the development of more effective strategies for future operations.

Image Analysis

Trained analysts can inspect aerial images captured by the drone and identify any visual cues or anomalies that may indicate the presence of remains. Their expertise allows to recognize patterns, shapes, and textures and to detect subtle clues that might be overlooked by automated algorithms. Human analysts can also incorporate contextual knowledge such as local topography, historical data, or previous search effort results to guide their analysis and identify high-priority areas for further investigation.

This data can be further analyzed using specialized software tools, image processing algorithms, and GIS (Geographic Information System) techniques. The analysis can help identify potential areas of interest, prioritize search efforts, and provide valuable information to forensic experts involved in the investigation.


UgCS drone flight planning software is becoming an essential tool in the arsenal for aerial drone-based search and rescue operations. It can allow drone operators to cover large areas efficiently and access challenging terrains otherwise outside of reach of ground-based teams. Combined with efficient management and analysis of collected data, search teams can prioritize their efforts and contribute to bringing closure to the close ones affected by the loss of a missing person.

Read more about UgCS: